Germany's AfD forced to retract claims Environment Ministry gave millions to Hillary Clinton campaign

Germany's far-right AfD has been forced to issue a statement admitting it falsely accused the Environment Ministry of donating millions to Hillary Clinton's election campaign. The claims were made by party board member.

A Berlin regional court on Monday ordered the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and its board member Georg Pazderski (pictured) to publicly retract false claims that the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) donated millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016.

An AfD press release, authored by Pazderski and published in November 2016, stated that the BMU had "put several millions of taxpayers' money into the Clinton election campaign."

The court found that the AfD's "serious accusations" were not only false but also risked "jeopardizing public confidence" in the federal ministry. As well as misspending taxpayer money, the populist party also made groundless claims that the BMU intervened in the US election.

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Quadriga | 01.03.2018

Europe's far right: Can the established parties stop them?

BMU environment projects and the Clinton Foundation

The AfD's misleading claim was based on the fact that BMU had funded a climate protection project in eastern Africa as part of its International Climate Initiative (ICI). The project was being implemented by the Clinton Foundation.

The Foundation is also involved in a second ICI project in Africa. However, the ministry's decision to fund both projects was made back in 2013, long before the start of the 2016 US election campaign.

Read more: How the far-right AfD taps into Germany's East-West divide

The BMU had already won a court order back in December 2016, forcing the AfD to remove the press release from its website. However, the populist party had so far refused to issue a retraction.

The defendants — AfD board member Pazderski and the federal party itself — were ordered to bear the costs of the lawsuit, although an appeal is still possible.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Alexander Gauland

Co-chairman Alexander Gauland said the German national soccer team's defender Jerome Boateng might be appreciated for his performance on the pitch - but people would not want "someone like Boateng as a neighbor." He also argued Germany should close its borders and said of an image showing a drowned refugee child: "We can't be blackmailed by children's eyes."

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Alice Weidel

Alice Weidel generally plays the role of "voice of reason" for the far-right populists, but she, too, is hardly immune to verbal miscues. Welt newspaper, for instance, published a 2013 memo allegedly from Weidel in which she called German politicians "pigs" and "puppets of the victorious powers in World War II. Weidel initially claimed the mail was fake, but now admits its authenticity.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Frauke Petry

German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016. Officers must "use firearms if necessary" to "prevent illegal border crossings." Communist East German leader Erich Honecker was the last German politician who condoned shooting at the border.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Björn Höcke

The head of the AfD in the state of Thuringia made headlines for referring to Berlin's Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame" and calling on the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past. The comments came just as Germany enters an important election year - leading AfD members moved to expel Höcke for his remarks.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Beatrix von Storch

Initially, the AfD campaigned against the euro and bailouts - but that quickly turned into anti-immigrant rhetoric. "People who won't accept STOP at our borders are attackers," the European lawmaker said. "And we have to defend ourselves against attackers."

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Marcus Pretzell

Pretzell, former chairman of the AfD in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and husband to Frauke Petry, wrote "These are Merkel's dead," shortly after news broke of the deadly attack on the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Andre Wendt

The member of parliament in Germany's eastern state of Saxony made waves in early 2016 with an inquiry into how far the state covers the cost of sterilizing unaccompanied refugee minors. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have sought asylum in Germany, according to the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (BumF) - the vast majority of them young men.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Andre Poggenburg

Poggenburg, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, has also raised eyebrows with extreme remarks. In February 2017, he urged other lawmakers in the state parliament to join measures against the extreme left-wing in order to "get rid of, once and for all, this rank growth on the German racial corpus" - the latter term clearly derived from Nazi terminology.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

Alexander Gauland - again ...

During a campaign speech in Eichsfeld in August 2017, AfD election co-candidate Alexander Gauland said that Social Democrat parliamentarian Aydan Özoguz should be "disposed of" back to Anatolia. The German term, "entsorgen," raised obvious parallels to the imprisonment and killings of Jews and prisoners of war under the Nazis.

AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

... and again

Gauland was roundly criticized for a speech he made to the AfD's youth wing in June 2018. Acknowledging Germany's responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, he went on to say Germany had a "glorious history and one that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years. Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history."

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